Thomas Demand’s Paper Haikus
There is something familiar and disturbing about Thomas Demand’s images. This is also his trademark: the artist builds life-size paper models, which he then photographs to produce images that hesitate between true and false. Their verisimilitude attracts us, their artificiality repels us, and this unusual in-between forces us to think about what is before our eyes.
For his series The Dailies, which he is exhibiting in the masterful retrospective currently on view at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, the German artist for once abandons images laden with history and news found in the press, to focus on minor subjects, and especially on trivial images. Those that everyone can take with their phone, to point out the details that punctuate their day.
Cigarette butts stuck in an ashtray filled with sand, a firecracker pink dog leash wrapped around a post, a pile of mail piling up outside a door… None of this really matters, but these little images have become our daily adventures, and a way of telling our lives. “You step on chewing gum, says the artist. Hop, you take a photo that you send to your boyfriend, to tell him that you have to go home and change your shoes. These images have become more important than words to communicate. »
“In most of my images, there is a context, an event, a reference. Here, there is nothing else to know than what is in front of your eyes. » Thomas Demand
Through these delicate paper monuments, Thomas Demand salutes the major upheaval that photography has gone through in recent years. “Until recently, it was the professional photographers who produced the official version of things, who kept the calendar of the beauties of the world. Today everyone is a photographer, and with social networks, we have all become senders and receivers. » However, the artist emphasizes how much this essential part of photography today passes under the radar, too tiny to appear in newspapers or on television.
He therefore wanted to focus on these images which, unlike those he usually does, “don’t tell a story”. “In most of my images, there is a context, an event, a reference. Here, there is nothing else to know than what is in front of your eyes. » The artist wanted less to make them precious than to stop time, to transform these snapshots taken and sent in a fraction of a second into a lasting object that catches the eye.
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